Focusing on One Point At A Time in Matches
“How can I turn my game around after playing poorly in the first set?”
As a matter of fact, I’ve seen many tennis players tank the second set after losing a close first set.
Losing the first set of a match doesn’t mean that you can’t turn your performance around… But, for many tennis players, it’s difficult to convince themselves of that fact.
Do you assume early in the match as to how you’ll play throughout the match?
For example, if you are not getting your first serve in, you might falsely conclude that you will lose your serve throughout the match…
If you are having difficulty returning a serve in the first set, you might falsely conclude that you will not be able to win enough games to win the match.
If your match strategy is not working early in the match, you might falsely conclude that it’s just not your day.
This leads to reactive confidence, not proactive confidence.
You don’t want to predict how the match will unfold based on your performance early in the match…
I saw my daughter win a first set being down 1-5 and go on to win the match.
Stuff happens during a match… Opponents get tight, protect the score, or get tired, for example.
Likewise, making false conclusions greatly affect your game-time effort.
If you conclude you will lose or continue to play poorly, why would you even attempt to put forth that extra effort to try to turn the match around?
Instead of being aggressive and trying to win each point, you end up taking the safe shot, playing back on your heels, or maybe tanking altogether.
False conclusions are performance-crushers.
What exactly can turn your play around in the middle of a match?
Turning things around requires that you focus on how you can best play in the moment.
If you don’t have your normal powerful first serve, how can you adjust your game plan to account for not having that big serve?
If your ground strokes aren’t falling for winners, how can you change your match strategy to keep rallies alive?
By refraining from reacting with doubt, you can find ways to win points despite not being on top of your game.
Despite getting off to a slow start, Julia Goerges found a way to beat Bianca Andreescu in the final, 2-6 7-5 6-2, and win the 2018 ASB Classic for back-to-back titles at the ASB Classic.
Andreescu won the first set in only 30 minutes.
Instead of concluding that she just didn’t have what it takes to win and mentally conceding the match, Goerges adjusted her strategy and stayed focused on each point.
GOERGES: “I didn’t really get a foot on the court in the beginning. I didn’t feel my game, but I changed my tactics a little bit. Once again this week, I found a way to manage to win. It was probably more worth it than a 6-2, 6-2 win.”
Finding a way to win without your “A” game requires that you stay present in the present.
How Not to Tank When Losing:
You don’t need your “A” game to pull out a win or change the direction of a match when down early…
First, don’t jump to harmful conclusions about the quality of your game and always focus on the next game or set to be played.
If you tank, you have ZERO chance to turn the match around. And you don’t learn anything–you only reinforce failure.
Reset the match in your mind if you lose the first set…
Think: new game, new point, new set. The past must be left in the past.
Keep in mind that your opponent can tighten up, get tired, or play too safe when in the lead. Anything can happen when you keep your head in the match!
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Are you (or your players) performing up to your ability in competition?
Do you bring your best and most confident game to matches?
I often hear players complain about the following problems when they play in matches…
“I get so tight or tense before matches that I can’t think straight or have any rhythm in my game.”
“I get so frustrated with hitting bad shots or with errors and it snowballs.”
“I expect so much when I play that I unravel and lose confidence when the match does not go as planned.”
“My confidence seems to disappear when I go from practice to matches and I don’t know why.”
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